There is a little banter battle going back and forth in the English-language sports dailies here in Japan about the entire Pete Rose dissing Ichiro thing, so since I just spent a whole bunch of time reading these, I figure I might as well link them.
I guess this starts with Rick Reilly's story on Pete Rose getting to recreate his record-setting Ty-Cobb-beating single in Cincinnati. (Unrelated, but I was there at Veterans Stadium when Pete Rose broke Stan Musial's NL hit record.)
In that article, there are two choice quotes that (rightfully) kind of piss off Ichiro fans:
"Do you realize that Ichiro has had three or four seasons where about 27, 28 percent of his hits are infield hits? The guy has to be the luckiest guy in the history of the world to get that many infield hits!"
"OK, you gonna let me go over to Japan and play for five or six years? Nothing against Japanese baseball, but it's basically Triple-A ball."
So then Rob Neyer writes, If Ichiro Had Been Born in California... and points out that Ichiro is pretty much the exact kind of player you would pick to reach 4000 hits, were he to play his entire career in the MLB, which wasn't an option.
A week or so later (Sep 16), Jim Allen, who writes the Hot Corner for the Daily Yomiuri, and is a guy who's been here in Japan watching baseball since Ichiro was in junior high school, takes up the torch to point out that calling NPB AAA-level isn't quite fair, AND that Rose had "daida ore" privileges as Reds manager to get himself into lineups long past his prime.
(Around the same time, Joe Posnanski also chimes in on the "How great is Ichiro really?" debate. NPB card guy linked this one in the comments.)
A week after that (Sep 25), Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times takes a somewhat neutral stance and just points out that in the Ichirose debate, the numbers won't lie.
And then a week after THAT (Oct 2), Jason's boss Jack Gallagher goes off on a Ichiro is a selfish player who will never be anywhere as good as Pete Rose rant out of nowhere, asserting that "Ichiro is a great player who puts himself first," and "Ichiro plays for stats, while Rose played to win." Which didn't sit right with me, but my general feeling is that it really doesn't matter and you simply can't compare the two guys meaningfully.
So today, Oct 7, I'm reading Jim Allen again, and he wrote another article to point out exactly what was wrong with the JT article. What amuses me is not necessarily the way Jim states his points but the way he refers to that "other rival newspaper writer".
It's kind of neat, though at the same time it's like sitting in on a debate being conducted by carrier pigeon correspondence.
Either way, there have been a whole lot of pretty crazy hitting achievements this season. What I find even crazier when I think about it is that this was Ichiro's 10th season in the MLB already; I remember visiting Japan in 2001 when it was his first season there and you could see Mariners games on TV pretty much anywhere in the country you went. Time flies!